Assembly of forest communities across East Asia: Insights from phylogenetic community structure and species pool scaling

Local communities are assembled from larger-scale species pools via dispersal, environmental filtering, biotic interactions, and local stochastic demographic processes. The relative importance, scaling and interplay of these assembly processes can be elucidated by comparing local communities to variously circumscribed species pools. Here we present the first study applying this approach to forest tree communities across East Asia, focusing on community phylogenetic structure and using data from a global network of tropical, subtropical and temperate forest plots. We found that Net Relatedness Index (NRI) and Nearest Taxon Index (NTI) values were generally lower with geographically broad species pools (global and Asian species pools) than with an East Asian species pool, except that global species pool produced higher NTI than the East Asian species pool. The lower NRI for the global relative to the East Asian species pool may indicate an important role of intercontinental migration during the Neogene and Quaternary and climatic conservatism in shaping the deeper phylogenetic structure of tree communities in East Asia. In contrast, higher NTI for the global relative to the East Asian species pool is consistent with recent localized diversification determining the shallow phylogenetic structure.

Gang Feng, Xiangcheng Mi, Wolf L. Eiserhardt, Guangze Jin, Weiguo Sang, Zhijun Lu, Xihua Wang, Xiankun Li, Buhang Li, I-Fang Sun, Keping Ma, & Jens-Christian Svenning
Scientific Reports